Fake it till you make it, is kind of what Home Depot did in its early days. Ken Langone the co-founder of Home Depot has said that his first two stores were filled mostly with empty boxes. Giving the effect that these massive Home Depot stores were filled with goods.
It’s a bizarre and honest statement but it has merit. As a consumer if you see a store that isn’t busy have little stock and plenty of bare shelves it’s a sign of dire times or despair for the company. It reminds you of times when going through stores that are closing down, it’s a sorry sight. Yet if you have a store that has great variety, service and is filled to the brim with “stock” its going to be much more pleasant and you will be willing to return.
Not only was the move to have empty boxes in Home Depot stores smart from a consumer perception point it was also a good move from the business side as affording to put that much stock into the stores was not possible at that early stage.
Fake it till you make it
The whole idea of Home Depot was massive stores, huge range, great service and competitive prices. Most of that is attainable but the massive stores in the early stages of the company bought upon the empty boxes thinking. Its genius too, Home Depot is still around now so all they had to do was fake it for a bit and gain ground then they could expand and put real stock in the massive stores.
The article also states how co-founder Bernie Marcus would stand out the front and give people $1 to go inside. Interesting marketing strategy but to get customers to see the great range and to build a loyal customer base is important. Home Depot was in a market where they just needed their foot in the door and before long they will be through the door into a sustainable business future with growth.
I think a lot can be learnt from Home Depots early days, as long as you don’t deceive or do unethical behavior making your business look better than it is has no shame. Giving incentives, rewards or prizes to get customers and users is a strategy that works and if you need to get of the ground look into that.